There is nothing like playing a football game. Before each game, you practice and plan for a week. Details are studied, then they’re studied again. From the second you step off the field at the end of one game, you’re slowly building yourself back up for the next one.

In the case of opening night, you’ve had months to get yourself ready, physically and mentally. Your inner clock is set to go off at a certain time. Football is a game of routine and habit, and the teams that can adjust when that routine is thrown off are the most successful.

On Friday night, the weather decided to play with the routines of a few Maine high school football teams.

It’s 126 miles, round trip, from Newport to Rockland. That doesn’t sound like a lot, until you make the trip twice in 24 hours, like the Nokomis Regional High School football team. It’s approximately the same distance from Fairfield to Auburn. That’s the trip the Lawrence High School football team made Friday and Saturday to take on Edward Little High School in the season opener.

Because of the storms, Lewiston at Mt. Ararat of Topsham and Camden Hills at Morse of Bath also were postponed. The heaviest storms rolled down from the mountains, through the Androscoggin River Valley, to the ocean.

According to Maine Principals’ Association rules, a sporting event must be delayed 30 minutes if lightning is seen. It’s an issue of safety for all involved — players, coaches, officials, fans — and on the long list of rules the MPA keeps, it’s the most sensible.

That doesn’t make being put on hold any easier.

“We didn’t play Friday night, and we were ready,” Lawrence senior Josh Doolan said. “It worked out better for us, because we really got to just sleep on it. We were ready and intense.”

Lawrence is a veteran team, the Bulldogs have 21 seniors, and didn’t have any trouble refocusing Saturday afternoon after another long bus ride. Still, coach John Hersom made sure his team didn’t stew all night about not playing.

“After we got back (Friday) night, we sat them down and said try to get your rest,” Hersom said. “The challenge at that point was to try and come back in the morning here and show they were ready to play like they were last night. They certainly were ready to come down, and right from there, we were ready to go.”

Lawrence and Edward Little players never made it to the field. In Rockland, Nokomis and Oceanside waited out one delay, began playing at 7:45 p.m., then left the field when more lightning arrived as Oceanside was driving deep inside Nokomis territory. When play was halted, they were approximately four minutes into the game and Oceanside had a third down and goal from the Warriors’ 5 yard line.

After a half hour delay, the decision was made to have Nokomis and Oceanside resume play at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“We tried to turn it into a positive. We got to see what (Oceanside) could do,” Nokomis coach Haggie Pratt said. “They had their momentum killed by the delay.”

For Lawrence, Friday’s postponement only delayed the inevitable. The veteran Bulldogs regrouped, refocused, and took a relatively easy 39-16 win Saturday afternoon.

“It’s a tribute to them to be able to handle all of that and be ready to come out and have a first half like we did,” Hersom said.

Nokomis, on the other hand, lost 34-27 at Oceanside. Pratt would never use the delay and Saturday’s early wake-up call (the Warriors reported to school at 6:30 a.m. and were on the road at 7) as an excuse, but it had to affect a team short on experience. So what if it did, Pratt said. His team played hard, and left Rockland knowing it did some things well, and can improve on others.

“Our history has been to let down. The kids didn’t do that (Saturday). Every error seems like a correctable mistake, and that’s a good thing,” Pratt said.

Lawrence and Nokomis are football teams are vastly different stages. At Lawrence, with decades of tradition as a backdrop, the Bulldogs learned this weekend that those lessons are ingrained into their culture.

At Nokomis, where football has been played for less than a decade, those lessons are starting to take root.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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